23.05.

1915: Bloodbath at the Isonzo River: Italy vs. Austria-Hungary

1915: Bloodbath at the Isonzo River: Italy vs. Austria-Hungary
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 23 May 1915
  • During World War I, more than 1,000,000 people, including many people from Croatia, lost their lives on the Italian battlefield. The war between Italy and Austria-Hungary began on this day. Italy fired first shells near the town of Cervignano del Friuli (twenty kilometers west of today's Italian-Slovenian border).

On this day in 1915 the Kingdom of Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary (during World War I, which had started in 1914).

Italy was originally neutral during World War I, and technically part of the Central Powers. However, it later decided to enter the war on the Entente side, after the Entente Powers secretly promised to give Italy the Croatian coastal territories on the Adriatic.

Italy fired the first shells near the town of Cervignano del Friuli (twenty kilometers west of today’s Italian-Slovenian border).

Italy’s Head of General Staff (Italian: Capo di Stato Maggiore) was General Luigi Cadorna. He advocated frontal attacks on the battlefield, which had disastrous consequences for the Italian soldiers (hundreds of thousands were killed).

General Cadorna was planning to break through the Austro-Hungarian defense on the river Soča (Isonzo), then penetrate the area of Karst towards Ljubljana, and continue towards Vienna.

It was a huge plan, and totally unrealistic. Namely, trenches, barbed wire and machine guns were used at the time, and made such a dramatic breakthrough impossible.

The war soon turned into an exhausting trench warfare on the Italian battlefield, similar to the one on the Western Front in France.

More than 1,000,000 people lost heir lives on the Italian battlefield. About 650,000 people were killed on the Italian side, and about 400,000 on the Austro-Hungarian side.

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